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Grant will help schools stock bookshelves

Foundation donates $15,000, community partners match


There are more books coming to classrooms, meaning more students will have opportunities to hit the books.

For the second-straight year, Godfrey-Lee is the recipient of a $30,000 challenge grant from the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation and community partners to stock elementary classroom libraries.

The district received donations to reach the $30,000 goal through a fundraising campaign in June.

“I am beyond thrilled and extremely grateful for the support from our community partners to provide for our kids,” said Superintendent Kevin Polston. “We look forward to ordering the books as soon as possible to get them in the hands of our students for the 2019-20 school year. These books provide the gift of literacy, which is critical for students to achieve at high levels.”

Community Partners Key

Like last year, the challenge grant from the foundation, based in Battle Creek, was contingent on the district’s ability to match $15,000.

Polston said the Binda Foundation partnered with Godfrey-Lee after hearing about the HIL (High Impact Leadership) grant through Kyle Mayer, assistant superintendent at Ottawa ISD and board member for Reading Now Network. Godfrey-Lee participates in the HIL Project.

RNN is a collective effort of superintendents, school boards and school districts throughout West Michigan working to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels.

Polston talked about two important factors in choosing the books; making sure they are high quality and reflect their students.

“We have also focused a lot of energy on culturally responsive texts that reflect our student population. It’s important for our students to see themselves in their learning. Texts are one way of doing that,” he said.

Steve Hoelscher, HIL facilitator for Godfrey Elementary, said the purpose of enhancing and strengthening classroom libraries at Godfrey-Lee is to create a love of reading, increase vocabulary usage and prepare students to use reading as a way to improve their skills.

“Many research studies have shown that classroom libraries need to have 300-600 high engagement books,” Hoelscher said. “One study estimates that children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new vocabulary words each year as a result of book reading.

“Another study found that the highest achievers in 5th grade classrooms were likely to read over 200 times as many minutes per day, 21 minutes, as the lowest achievers, who read for less than one tenth of a minute per day.”

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Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.

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